A Way Home Canada launched as a national coalition in late 2015.
It is the result of years of collective efforts by founding coalition members (the National Learning Community on Youth Homelessness, the Canadian Observatory on Homelessness, Raising the Roof, Canadian Alliance to End Homelessness, Canadian Housing & Renewal Association, Egale Human Rights Trust, the Government of Alberta and the A Way Home Funders Table co-led with the Catherine Donnelly Foundation) to put youth homelessness and prevention on the map. Alongside these dedicated service providers, funders, researchers, policy makers, advocates and people with lived experience of youth homelessness we have worked to establish a shared vision for what it would take to prevent and end youth homelessness in Canada, and we’ve been driving toward that vision since then.
A Way Home has been invited into communities across Canada and countries around the world to share the story of this emerging coalition and our collective vision for change. In the spring of 2016, A Way Home America launched at an event at the White House. Since that time, Canadian communities such as (but not limited to) Ottawa, Kelowna and Peterborough have taken on the A Way Home brand as a way to signify commitment to this growing movement for change. In 2018 we supported the launch of A Way Home Europe, an initiative with FEANTSA, at a community-based event in Antwerp, Belgium, following the previous launch of A Way Home Scotland. The most recent A Way Home to coalesce is A Way Home Australia.
“Choosing the name A Way Home was a no brainer for us in FEANTSA. It allowed us to tap into an international movement that was already producing results, resources & tools in both Canada and the United States of America. Our mission to prevent and end youth homelessness is not solely a European endeavour and where possible we should share common challenges and co-develop solutions. I’m a big fan of avoiding reinventing the wheel wherever possible and with A Way Home Canada we found inspiring and passionate peers who shared our vision of ending youth homelessness and have been incredibly happy to partner with them and bring their approach to Europe. The name also puts a positive spin on the fight to end homelessness. It’s not focusing on the existing problems or putting young people into a box of ‘homelessness’. It’s about supporting young people to find their home. For services, it pushes the focus back on the way or method with which we accomplish that. This gives us the opportunity to start conversations about how we partner with organisations and opens the door for Collective Impact and other forms of innovation.”
Robbie Stakelum, FEANTSA
“A Way Home-Kelowna was established in 2017, just as our community was in the process of developing a larger plan to tackle the issue of homelessness. A group of dedicated youth organizations had been working together around how to best meet the needs of young people, and agreed to build on this existing collaboration in order to establish and launch AWH-Kelowna. At a time when a spotlight was shining on homelessness, we wanted to make sure that the needs of young people were not only taken into consideration, but were embedded within the larger community strategy. As opposed to an afterthought in the community planning process, by establishing AWH-Kelowna we were able to give the issue of youth homelessness the profile and attention it deserved. A combination of timing, opportunity, and partnership allowed youth homelessness to be integrated seamlessly into the community planning process, becoming a priority population with specific targets within the Kelowna Journey Home Strategy. We would not have been able to get AWH-Kelowna off of the ground without the support of AWH-Canada. Being connected to a National movement has allowed us to accomplish things that we could not have imagined by working on our own, including leveraging funding to support our work. Staff from AWH-Canada have been invaluable in helping us throughout the development, and now early implementation, of our youth homelessness prevention strategy. From presenting on the issue of youth homelessness to help with raising awareness and understanding in our community, to providing support, guidance, and technical support in our work, the outcomes have been significant. One year into the Journey Home Strategy, we are in the process of establishing 35 units of youth specific housing, including new supportive housing with dedicated space for young people. In August, we will launch Housing First for Youth, and through the support of and connection AWH-Canada, will join the Making the Shift project. We are also working closely with AWH-Canada and the Canadian Observatory on Homelessness to launch the Upstream Project in Kelowna, ensuring that the prevention of youth homelessness is at the forefront of our work. Signing on to the A Way Home brand has allowed us to benefit from evidence led policies and practices, and where there is a lack of evidence, work collectively to build an evidence base. We are excited to work with A Way Home Canada and continue to move forward and show Canada, and the world, that we can prevent, and ultimately end, youth homelessness.“
Mike Gawliuk, Canadian Mental Health Association, Kelowna
“Over the past five years, an innovative, creative, and driven group of leaders, including young people, from across the country have mobilized to transform the response to youth homelessness in the United States of America. The people and organizations that make up A Way Home America are united behind the vision that we can prevent youth homelessness and when homelessness does occur for a young person we can end it, meaning that experiences of homelessness are rare, brief, and one-time. Most importantly, we have united behind the fact that the youth most impacted by homelessness in our country, particularly LGBTQ youth and youth of color, have to be centered in and a critical part of the leadership toward developing whatever solutions and systems we transform and build to address the problem in America. We are united in ensuring that every young person finds their way to a home that is safe, inclusive, and welcoming of who they are and what their specific needs are. The “A Way Home” message is about unity, innovation, equity, and evidence based solutions to make sure that young people of all backgrounds, experiences, and identities can live the lives they deserve. We are proud to be a part of a growing network of caring, mission driven leaders from around the globe rallying behind the “A Way Home” message and vision.”
Gregory Lewis, True Colors United